Written by Dana Krems
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater College of Business and Economics is committed to providing exceptional internship opportunities, including both regional and international work experiences. These experiences are critical avenues for ensuring students are career-ready, as well as helping to develop the global perspective in high demand by employers.
Senior accounting major Karley Kolberg can attest to the transformative nature of both regional internships and international work experiences. Kolberg transferred to UW-Whitewater from Loyola University Maryland after her first semester freshman year. Despite this detour, Kolberg did not miss a beat academically. In fact, she is on track to graduate in three-and-a-half years.
Kolberg also showed early initiative by exploring internship opportunities while still a sophomore. When attending her first career fair, her goals were to make contacts and polish her networking skills. However, her meeting with Megan Long and Karie Larson, representatives of Kerry, led to a formal interview and an internship offer for her junior year.
This first Kerry internship was in master data management, which falls under the company's commercial finance department. Master data management governs data company-wide and drives business intelligence and analytics.
"It was overwhelming in the beginning," Kolberg admits. "My work was project-based, and I was asked to lead projects right from the start. It also required some pretty advanced Excel functions that I wasn't familiar with, yet. Everyone was very supportive and helpful, though."
After a successful internship with Kerry, she was offered a position throughout the academic year. The international company was in the midst of a multi-year transition to SAP enterprise resource planning software. Kolberg, who is minoring in Spanish, was given the opportunity to work as a data steward for the Latin America product data transition.
In the summer of 2017, she was presented with an international internship opportunity related to the Latin America SAP transition. She was one of three employees from Kerry's Beloit, Wisconsin facility to visit the facility in San Juan del Rio, Mexico.
"It was an awesome experience!" Kolberg shares. "I was really busy with project work when I was there. I felt like I had a purpose and that I was making a contribution."
The international internship also boosted Kolberg's self-confidence. Though she had expected cultural and language barriers, she experienced very few difficulties. In fact, one of her greatest takeaways was the benefit of meeting other members of the Latin America data transition team.
"I realized how important it is to build relationships," she states. "The more people you know, the more knowledge you have."
Kolberg was ultimately offered a full-time position with Kerry's master data management team, which she will start after she graduates this December. Having participated in the planning stages, she looks forward to the execution of Kerry's Latin America SAP transition and rollout of future phases.
Kolberg noted that Kerry's culture is both demanding and rewarding.
She explains, "I was challenged to do more than I may have thought was possible, but it helped me to quickly build my skills, expertise and confidence."
Reflecting on her experience at UW-Whitewater, she adds, "The rigorous and challenging nature of the accounting program definitely helped prepare me to be successful at Kerry."
Commenting on UW-Whitewater and the international experience opportunity Kolberg's manager, Megan Long, states, "UW-Whitewater has proven to be a great source of talent for our business needs over the years. We find internship opportunities are an effective way for both the intern and the company to determine whether the role or the company are a fit."
She adds, "Our finding is that when providing short-term international opportunities such as Karley's, the world becomes a smaller place and employees often experience growth in confidence, critical thinking, communication and career progression opportunities."'